For some reason the word doesn’t exists in english, but in danish we have a word called ‘hygge’. You would probably pronounce it “hoogae” or something like it, but the important thing is the meaning of the word. Usually when you wrap yourself in a blanket, wear big woollen socks, have fire in the fireplace, read a great book and drink a hot cup of tea you would call it hygge. I think the ord that is closest to it in english is coziness.
Why is this word so important you might wonder… It is important because one of the things I appreciate most in the world is to hygge with the horses. Not necessarily doing anything, but relaxing, sleeping, grooming each other and so on. This is how I see quality time and the horses also seem to really enjoy these moments. I believe this kind of being together is a way to really strengthen the relationsship to your horse. Partly because you doesn’t expect anything from him, but also because you are together as equals without expectations or plans. You just follow your gut or whatever your horse shows you he would like to do at the given moment.
When Torrin came to me around 1,5 year ago he did not understand this concept of hygge. He was unable to relax. Stressed around. Couldn’t stand still. Did not enjoy being groomed or scratched. He simply did not understand that I was the one giving to him and all he had to do was to simply receive the love I gave him. Or the quiet moment I shared with him. Luckily things are much different now and he has finally understood the idea of being together like this. Now he curls his muzzle in pleasure when I hit the right spot on his neck. Sometimes he even tries to gently groom back on my jacket. Other times I would be kinder in my grooming with slow strokes and he would fall asleep while I am cuddling him.
With Alvaro I have also been laying in the straw in their shed several times. Either he would stand next to me and sleep or he would be eating by my side. Besides he often knows exactly where he wants to be scratched and he then places himself in relation to where my hand is. I don’t even have to search for the spot. He simply makes my hand go to the right place!
Also I notice when I am on the farm that no one else enjoys this kind of togetherness. Either they are riding or preparing the horse for the ride or the horse is in the stable/paddock. If the horse is having a day off it means no more than the human contact from stable to paddock and back again. People are usually on the farm for hours anyway, but the horse most likely wouldn’t notice. There is nothing wrong with this, but personally I am leaving the farm with such a nice warm feeling when I decide to hygge with the boys on their days off instead of just staying away or something like it.
Just a little call for you all to remember how important these moments of hygge are for both you and your horse. It is a way for your horse to truly be himself and be relaxed around you. Yet it is also a way for you to truly see your horse, give him something back for all his efforts in your training and forget about the rest of the world. No stress. No plans. No efforts. No expectations. Only love, gratitude and hygge!